I have eagerly awaited the 109 Pro since I got to listen to a prototype version at this year’s CanJam in New York City. A new open-back headphone from Meze would make anyone audiophile excited, as what I heard of the 109 Pro already sounded promising. Now the official launch of the 109 Pro is finally here, and I have gotten the chance to spend a lot more time with them. It’s priced at $799, putting it in line with the upper-tier mid-fi headphones like the Audeze LCD 2. Does the 109 Pro stand up to that measured quality?
What You Get
- 109 Pro headphones
- Zipper hard case
- Leather cable pouch
- 2 3.5mm cables
- 1.5m and 3m in length
- Quarter-inch jack
Look and Feel
When first gazing at the 109 Pro, it is mainly identical to Meze’s 99 Classics, with its walnut wood housing and large suspension headband. They even have the same bronze piece that holds their metal frame in place. If you just simply described the 109 Pro as an open-back version of the 99 Classics, I don’t think you’d be too far off. It is a fantastic design, so I don’t blame Meze for sticking so much to that design. The 109 Pro is not only built well but comfortable to wear too. Its ear cushions are velour and seal your ears gently, making it easy to spend many hours listening to the headphones without fuss.
The main 50mm driver of the 109 Pro uses a dual membrane diaphragm. Its materials combine beryllium-coated polymer, cellulose carbon fiber composite, and copper-zinc alloy. Both TPE cables are encased in black aluminum, with 3.5mm connectors at each end, making them compatible with certain Meze upgrade cables. Its 40 Ohm impedance makes the 109 Pro easier to drive than most open-back headphones at this price range.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 30KHz
- Sensitivity: 112dB SPI at 1KHz, 1mW
If there is anything Meze knows how to do, it is give their headphones a great soundstage. No matter if it’s open-back or closed-back, Meze’s over-ear and in-ear products can really open up your music. This is why I was so excited when I finally got to spend a lot more time with the 109 Pro than I did at CanJam. Listening to the headphones for this review, I got a much better sense of the 109’s scale. The spatial imaging is completely holographic, fully engulfing your headspace in sound. They have a non-linear soundstage and give each track plenty of depth from top to bottom.
Instrument and vocal placement are exceptionally well articulated, and appear in a floatier space within the soundstage. However, I think the sound elements are still closer to you than I was expecting. It is a warmer sound signature altogether, so I think some of that tone is more naturally intimate which brings everything closer together. What the 109 Pro does great though, is expand that intimate sound to a 3D space. This makes the soundstage not so much in front of you as it is around you in a dome. It’s not what I was expecting, but the 109’s soundstage is actually exactly what an open-back version of the 99 Classics should sound like.
There’s a present warmth to the lows, and it is never used to overpower the sound signature in any way. Instead, the warmth on the 109 Pro is used to paint a smooth but persistent picture of the bass. While the frequencies don’t lack power, it really isn’t about impact with the 109 Pro. The sub-bass and mid-bass both work to establish the fullness of the tone, while also keeping clean timbre. In the sub-bass, the 109 can provide some deep rumble that lifts the sound considerably, while the mid-bass gives you more of a leaner tone. You might not like that it doesn’t punch as hard, but I think the 109 Pro still does a great job giving you a gripping bass texture to revel in.
Being a warmer headphone, the midrange tends to showcase its emphasis in the low-mids, but the rest of the frequency response is still able to present spacious, natural properties. There is a ton of room in these mids, giving instruments an easily identifiable presence in the mix. Piano keys glide across the frequency spectrum with grace, filling out the space with strongly defined attacks. I get the same feeling with acoustic guitars and orchestral strings with their pluckiness. It exponentially highlights the intimate profile of this sound signature.
Vocals on the 109 Pro stands out as one of its greatest attributes. Not only delivering full-bodied and realistic performances but enhancing their dominance in a stimulating way. Their commanding nature is well balanced with the rest of the frequency spectrum while featuring an incredibly emotive response. It is like you can feel the guttural tones in some voices. Which brings out detail with an excellent sense of expression.
Warmer headphones tend to soften up in the highs, but the 109 Pro is not that kind of headphone. The timbre here has a striking tonality that brings a lively resonance to the sound signature. It hits hard but minimizes harsh tones, and only lets the sparkly textures show. These frequencies glisten in the mix and offer great height to the soundstage and imaging. Cymbals and hi-hats appear with a wonderful shimmer in a crisp resolution. You can feel each crash hover and dissipate around your forehead. Tambourines and chimes offer a sweet ultra-high resonance that presents a colorful waft of clarity. With this response, the highs really bring completeness to the sound signature.
I feel like I could listen to the 109 Pro for countless hours and never get tired of its lush sound signature. Its level of comfort also helps too, as the 109 sports an excellent build that matches the sonic fidelity on display. Having listened to the 109 Pro, and every other headphone that Meze has put out, I think it is safe to say this company does not know how to make a bad headphone. The 109 Pro is elegant and provided me with an enticing open-back experience on the level of some of the best out there. For some, $799 might be pushing it, but I think Meze is bringing the best it has with the 109 Pro. At its current price, the 109 Pro is a value that is easily worth considering as your new audiophile investment.
The Meze 109 Pro is available at Audio46.